Gerry Lopez is one of the most influential surfers and surfboard shapers of all time. Gerry grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and would go to Waikiki Beach with his family at a young age. He honed his surfing skills at Ala Moana bowl winning state and national surfing titles.
Gerry is a pioneer at Pipeline and multiple Pipeline Master winner. His calmness under pressure and ability to surf waves that can kill you is linked to his yoga practice on land. As Gerry puts it,
‘For your mind to be still, your breath has to be still. Your body must be still. You had to be at peace with this wave.’
Tune in as we talk story about Gerrys involvement in the shortboard revolution, starting his surfboard company Lightning Bolt, the birth of pro surfing, being one of the first surfers to visit Bali and G Land, snowboarding in Oregon, the Ying and Yang Documentary and so much more!
We sat down to record this episode in Ericiera, Portugal after the European Premiere documentary on his life, ‘The Yin and Yang of Gerry Lopez’ directed by Stacy Peralta.
Oli Russell-Cowan: There was often more than one person on the wave, right?
Gerry Lopez: Absolutely. There was no such thing as dropping in. You rode the wave together and had fun doing it.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Did that only come in when the crowds started?
Gerry Lopez: It wasn’t really a thing until the late 70s.
There weren’t that many guys generally speaking. The way it worked was the best surfer got the best waves, because he knew the most about where to sit, which ones were the best waves. Everybody respected that, and actually admired that. They would hope to learn by watching him. So when that guy went for a wave, everybody would step back and watch. After that then everybody took turns, and everybody knew whose turn it was.
There was never any tension in the lineup like there is today, there was no such thing as localism, surfing was a very welcoming sport.
I’ve thought about that a lot. Why have the lineups become so tense?
First of all, people feel that maybe there’s not enough waves for everybody, meaning there’s not enough waves for them.
But sometimes you can’t wait and you have to go. Or you’re going to be able to surf this wave better than the guy that’s already been waiting in position for it.
I was like that at one time. I would just take waves from people. Now I look back and went, what a jerk I was.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Do you feel guilty looking back at all?
Gerry Lopez: Now I do know. It’s rude and impolite. None of the older guys did that. But there weren’t many of them. So they didn’t have to do that. They didn’t have to act like that.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Is there any favourite memory or moment from Indonesia?
Gerry Lopez: There was multiple moments. I think the thing that really stands out, in my mind is how happy the people were. In our estimation, they didn’t have anything. They didn’t have shoes, they lived in pretty much a grass hut. They didn’t have a car. Maybe there was one motorcycle in the whole village and they were way happier than us.
They weren’t out there catching these beautiful waves, like we were. Eventually the board carrier kids would take our boards out.
Special thanks to all the people involved in making this episode:
Patagonia, Gerry Lopez Surfboards Archives, Zucalli Media, Mind Act, Susana Metzger, Henrique Escopelli, Fernanda Zandavalli, Dave Ponzio, Hotel Vila Gale, Ericeira
Feature image credit: Jeff DivineLast updated on Nov 8, 2022
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